CD Rate Trends This Week: Sept. 21

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Certificate of deposit rates fell last week, despite good news for the economy.

Rates were down across the line, with the three-month CD falling from 0.281% to 0.258%, and the five-year CD down from 1.799% to 1.755%, as measured by the BankingMyWay Weekly CD Rate Tracker.

Long-term, it might be time to start thinking about a rate environment where CDs are going up. The latest economic news would suggest just that.

To start, the August inflation rate rose 0.3% according to the Commerce Department, which not only eases deflation concerns, but also sets the stage for higher CD rate activity. Deflation is a real economy killer, cutting into business revenues and reducing profits. When it takes hold, companies tend to either layoff employees or at least hold employment levels steady.

Of course, that doesn’t mean inflation is rampant — it just means that the inflation rate is high enough so that deflation won’t be such a big concern. During the past 12 months, inflation has checked in at 1.1%, slightly down from the 1.2% rate over the previous year.

But if the September and October numbers also show an increase like August, it’s a likely sign that prices are rising, and that bank rates might rise along with the rest of the economy.

The other big piece of economic news hasn’t actually happened yet. The Federal Reserve meets today and is expected to keep interest rates right where they are now. The Federal Reserve’s Open Markets Committee sets the pace of national interest rates, and over the past few years has kept rates near 0% to spur lending and spending.

It’s tough to say what the Fed will do today, but of the stock market is any gauge — it was up 145 points Monday — rates will remain low and the Fed will stand ready to do whatever it takes to keep economic momentum flowing. That could mean keeping rates low, and it could mean that the Federal Reserve will embark on another program of buying U.S. government debt (a move Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently supported).

The Federal Reserve meets a day after the National Bureau of Economic Research stated that the Great Recession actually ended in June 2009. With the recession in our rearview mirror and inflation inching upward, CD rates may finally reverse their course.

As of now, though, the U.S. economy is in what economists call a “sweet spot,” with inflation low enough and deflation out of the picture.

As noted above, rates fell backward. Let’s go to the numbers calculated by the BankingMyWay Weekly CD Rate Tracker:

Description                         This Week                   Last Week

60-Month CD                          1.755%                        1.799%

48-Month CD                          1.505%                        1.557%

24-Month CD                          0.975%                        1.004%

12-Month CD                          0.633%                        0.677%

Six-Month CD                          0.405%                        0.432%

Three-Month CD                      0.258%                        0.281%

With interest rates staying low, it’s critical to get out there and dig up some great rate deals. Banks do offer them.

For some help, check out BankingMyWay’s CD Rate Search. Week to week, it’s the most thorough review of bank CD rates in the market.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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